Well hello everyone! Haley here, and today I’m introducing a new feature called Make It Happen Monday where we recommend books for prompts from 2020 reading challenges. If there is a specific prompt from a certain challenge that you would like us to cover let us know in the comments below or through email at: stuckinthestacks123 (at) gmail (dot) com. Today we are providing recommendations for the first two prompts in Book Riot’s 2020 Read Harder challenge.
Prompt- Read a YA Nonfiction book
Quick Take: Perfect for anyone interested in coding or computers, this nonfiction book follows two teenage girls who became friends at the summer camp Girls Who Code. They went on to become best friends and together create a viral video game. Beyond its examination of the tech industry in an interesting and accessible way, this book also provides how to sections for those want to begin coding
Quick Take: I don’t know that this book really needs much introduction. Suffice it to say that Anderson’s follow up to Speak is a poetry memoir brimming with rants about the failings of society and extends a hand to all those who are brave enough to stand up and say #metoo. Anderson also provides her own personal relevant stories and calls all its readers to action to stand up, be an ally, and do better.
Quick Take: This memoir follows Sandra as she immigrates with her family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and depicts the brutal massacre of her family and explores how she overcame the trauma of her childhood through art and activism. It also treats what the American Dream truly means when you are simply struggling to survive, find belonging in a new country, and ultimately looking towards the future with hope.
Quick Take: Mariatu was born in Sierra Leone surrounded by family and friends. One day, 12 year old Mariatu set out for a neighboring village to visit family but she never made it. Heavily armed rebel soldiers captured and tortured her, ultimately cutting off her hands and leaving her to fend for herself far from any sort of support system. From the brutal attack, begging in the streets of Freetown, and her eventual journey to Toronto where she finally began to pick up the pieces of her broken life; this memoir is simultaneously harrowing and hopeful as the reader experiences Mariatu’s journey as she heals and eventually flourishes in her new life.
Quick Take: Alright, I know I’m showing my bias here. This is essentially a look at the history of forensic science, from the discovery of fingerprinting and blood spatter analysis to DNA testing and all the important milestones in between. Heos uses real life cases to show each of these important steps while discussing the precursors of such practices, going as far back as Ancient China and Victorian England. You bet I am 100% here for it.
Prompt- Read a retelling of a classic of the canon, fairy tale, or myth by an author of color
Quick Take: This book is a retelling of The Goose Girl- a rare find -so I wanted to be sure to include it in this list. Alyrra is our protagonist, coming from a cruel family she wants nothing more than to escape the confines of palace. On the road to meet her betrothed a sorceress robs her of her identity and Alyrra seizes the opportunity to become a goose girl. While she starts her new life she realizes that her betrothed is in danger from the sorceress who cursed her. In the end she must decide between doing what’s comfortable and doing what’s right.
Quick Take: The start of a post apocalyptic trilogy grounded in native American mythology, Maggie is a monster hunter and supernaturally gifted killer. In her ownvoices sci-fi horror novel, Roanhorse creates a dark, gritty story full of violence and gory monsters. I enjoyed this book- even though I thought it rambled in places- simply because its so unique in its concept and breathtaking in scope, it is a must read for anyone looking to diversify their reading.
Quick Take: An Orchestra of Minorities is a modern retelling of the Odyssey with a Nigerian Odysseus by the name of Chinonso whose life is forever changed when he witnesses a woman about to jump off a bridge. Saved by our hero’s decision to throw two of his prized chickens off the same bridge, the two fall madly in love. When he goes away to Cyprus to gain an education and the approval of his beloved’s family he soon finds himself homeless, penniless and a world away from the woman he loves. What follows is a tale of epic proportions full of hope for the future and a determination to cross the economic and social classes that divide us.
Quick Take: A queer re-imagining of the classic Cinderella tale, Lo’s interpretation- with a gorgeous and haunting new paperback cover- paints a heroine who learns to save herself rather than require saving. Dark and disturbing but entirely empowering and romantic, Ash is a refreshing feminist take on the classic story that should be on every Ya reader’s bookshelf.
Quick Take: Set in Puerto Rico, this YA horror standalone is part mystery part fantasy deeply grounded in Puerto Rican myths and local urban legends, specifically that of El Cuco. It is rare that I come across books set in places like Puerto Rico so I wanted to be sure to highlight it on this list.
MG Shout Out
This post wouldn’t be complete without a proper shout out to Rick Riordan’s Imprint. Almost across the boards, they have amazing, diverse stories, tackling underrepresented myths, written by authors of color. Definitely check them out! You can’t go wrong no matter which one you pick up.
What About You?
We are very aware that this is not an exhaustive list, in fact, there were numerous titles I had to cut to keep this post from getting too long. Let us know in the comments what books you have enjoyed that fit these prompts and if there any prompts you would like us to highlight.